Popular television serials and shows like Game of Thrones are an integral part of modern ‘pop’ culture, and ‘fans’ often want their favourite actor or actress to be a part of their daily lives. It’s no surprise that on several occasions young adults search for merchandise and related memorabilia of their icons on websites and social media and, while the pricing of such products may appear “attractive”, given an array of promotional offers, but legal experts highlight that such products often violate domestic and international laws.
Serena Satheesan, Assistant Legal Manager, Bradford License India, highlighted the growing cases of copyright infringement due to unauthorised use of designs, ideas and allied violation of a brand’s intellectual property. Marketing experts also highlight that producers of TV shows need to work jointly with licensees from an early stage, and ensure that they offer an appropriate product range, in a bid to minimise ‘grey’ market sales. And, to leverage a market segment with sales of more than Rs 50 crore each year, several entrepreneurs are offering a range of merchandise including T-shirts, mugs and other accessories related to these popular television programs.
For instance, Manu Singh, co-owner of Hysteria! Stores, has created a niche with ‘offbeat’ merchandise from popular brands, and is increasingly focusing on acquiring licenses of well known ‘properties’, in a bid to offer products relevant for local trends and budgets. Similarly, Sid Taparia, CEO, Vox Pop Clothing, licensee of Disney, DC comics and Game of Thrones, amongst others, pointed to the “creative freedom” they enjoy vis-à-vis those offering “inspired” products, which are not strictly following the relevant regulations.
Taparia, said, “The products are developed in conformity with brand owners, and the designs and styling are far superior vis-à-vis the imitations.” Apart from that, online retailer White Kalia, offer apparel and accessories made by Bioworld Merchandising, and it is keen to acquire licenses of television shows which are popular amongst urban consumers. ‘Cool’ products On the other hand, a number of entrepreneurs are offering products which do not have the necessary licensing agreements with the copyright holder, but their designs are “self developed”. Striking a similar view, Vivek Malhotra, Cofounder and Managing Partner, Redwolf, a website which offers T-shirts from popular TV shows, said, “The market for such products is growing rather aggressively.” Malhotra also pointed out that their product designs are regarded as “fan art”. Malhotra, added,“We are currently working with leading global icons to ensure that our designs do not infringe any copyrights, and are also in discussions for obtaining licenses.” Clearly, being ‘cool’ is an emerging business opportunity for the long-term.